Wind played with the smoke that rose from the burning end of a cigar, the end of which glowed as bright an orange red as the hair of the man smoking it. Gray clouds over head seemed fitting to the place he approached yet he wished it was not so gloomy. This storm with it's thick clouds had hung over Vale for days now.
Roman released the smoke from his last drag on the cigar as he walked through the damp grass, walking a familiar path between statues and stone slabs. The only sound that greeted him here was the wind dancing through the trees, then the creak of the old iron gate as he stepped into a place reserved for Torchwicks.

He paused, dropping his cigar and snuffing it out with his cane, he'd promised after all, never to smoke around them.
Stepping through the old iron gate Roman paused momentarily to glance at the graves of his parents and then with a sigh stepped farther in. He paused again at his sister's grave then took only a couple steps, stopping at a grave that should have remained empty, however, when the unexpected had happened he'd given this place to someone he'd loved as his own child.
The headstone read. "Sorin Xiao Long." Followed by dates that placed the boy at only the age of four at his time of death. Below that it read. "Brother, Son, Nephew. Forever warm in our hearts and never forgotten."
There was already a spread of flowers and a few toys, his parents having already been here.
Roman fell to his knees, then sat on his heels, head bowed, hat hiding his eyes, it could not hide the silent tears that slid down his face. He still felt like he'd failed the boy, he still couldn't forgive himself. Not six months later at least, but likely not ever.
After a few moments he regained his composure, though a few tears still slipped down his face. He reached into his coat and produced a small box, opening it up he took out the tiny charm bracelet and held it out over the grave.

"Look what I've brought you, Sorin, for your birthday. You'd have been five.." Roman's voice cracked and his hand clenched into a fist around the little trinket as a fresh wave of despair rolled through him. He pulled his hand back and opened his fist, looking down at the little bracelet, it only had four charms. A very blocky wolf, because wolves always seemed warm in the cold places. A block of soul sand, because purple. An enderman because of it's purple eyes and lastly a magma cube, because they were warm too.
These had been some Sorin's favorite things in the game Minecraft.
Roman's tears dripped onto his gloved hand around the gift. With a ragged sigh the saddened uncle placed the gift back in it's box, then dug a small hole to place the box deep under the sod, that way it would be safe from the groundskeepers.

"I hope you like it, I'll bring you a new charm each year…" Roman's voice cracked every other word and once the dirt was packed back into place he folded his arms and leaned forward. His head rested against the damp grass and his hat slipped off and rolled away as the seemingly broken uncle mourned the passing of a child that should have outlived him.
"I'm sorry…. I'm so sorry…. I couldn't save you."


Soleil sat on the cold tiles of the kitchen floor, leaning against the cabinet. He felt cooler than normal, and tired. It had been days since he'd seen the sun, the clouds hanging thick over the city keeping him from getting any light. Sometimes it rained, sometimes not, either way he didn't like it.
Yang was standing at that same counter, following the directions in a recipe book, then she paused.

"Do you want a chocolate cake or a vanilla one?" She asked, glancing down, then bit her lip, realizing the implications in her question as she watched her son's face.

Silent tears started trailing down Soleil's cheeks, his bottom lip quivering.
When he and his twin had been asked that last year they had replied in unison. "Both!"
Yang knelt beside her silent son and pulled him into a tight hug. "I'm sorry honey. Mommy wasn't thinking. Oh, baby please forgive me."
She sat down and pulled him into her lap, rocking him and still holding him tight.

"How about something else, an orange cake maybe?" She felt him nod against her shoulder. She pulled him out to arms length to kiss his forehead after which she looked him in the face, going to ask him if he was okay but, gazing into those little red orbs wet with tears she knew he was not. He didn't want a cake, he didn't want to celebrate his birthday, he only wanted his brother back.
That was the one thing she could never give him. She pulled him close and hugged him tight again, she understood. Years ago her own little sister had faked her death and Yang had believed her dead. Unlike Ruby though, Sorin wasn't faking.
He wasn't coming back.

The fiery blond mother found herself feeling guilty then, that she had gotten her sister back, but Soleil would never have his brother back. Still, two years of believing Ruby dead was enough for Yang to understand what her little dragon was going through and she hated every minute of it.
She heard footsteps and soft sobbing and glanced up to see Blake, tears rolling down her face non stop and she was shivering slightly. She crumpled to the floor next to her wife and son, hugging them both as she sobbed, she was cold to the touch which worried Yang.

The other three kits came to see what was the matter, seeing their mothers and brother crying they piled on top of the three, unable to stop their own tears. They knew what was wrong. The six cried together over the loss of the seventh member of their family once again. One of Blake's cat ears twitched slightly, she knew Soleil was mute now and yet she could swear she was hearing a male voice crying too, but more faint. Almost not there at all. For the sake of her sanity she decided it was Soleil though she knew he was silent.
Yang was the first to get control of herself. "Come on guys, he wouldn't want us to be sad. Ruby and Roman will be here soon too."

"Yeah, everything's gonna be okay!" Lila said, trying to sound bright as she wiped away her tears but they just kept falling anyway.

Narzisse was the next to stand and she took her sister's hand, trying her hardest to smile through her pain, tears streaming down her face past her big smile.
Blake was slowly warming up and again Yang wondered how she'd gotten so cold.
After a minute Sombra stood up too, huddling with her sisters as they tried to cheer each other up. Yang stood, still holding Soleil and pulled Blake back to her feet too, most of their tears subsiding for the moment. Soleil wasn't crying anymore anyway.
Yang set the boy on the counter next to the mixing bowl and decided to distract him by having him help. Blake started ushering the girls back out of the kitchen but paused and glanced around, Yang watched as Blake's ears flicked, her tear stained face looking a bit spooked. She glanced at Soleil then back at the floor near the table, her ears flattening to her head before she stepped out of the kitchen.
Yang decided she would ask her about it later.

By the time they had gotten the cake in the oven and made sandwiches and cut them into bite sized pieces Ruby showed up, placing a present on the table with the others.

"You're early." Yang grinned.

"Yep!" Ruby replied cheerfully, the smile on her face faded for a moment though as she passed the spot Blake had glanced at earlier, Ruby shivered a bit and glanced back at that spot before shrugging and coming around the cabinet to hug Yang and then Soleil.

Yang turned her attention to checking the cake while Ruby ruffled Soleil's hair. "How's the birthday boy eh?"

He frowned up at her then looked away and sighed.

"That bad eh?"

He nodded slightly.

"Are you feeling alright?"

He pointed out the window.

"Oh, yeah, I can see that not helping."

"Where's that crooked husband of yours?"

"He's not and he…." Ruby paused, biting her lip, remembering the look on Roman's face before he'd left earlier.
Of the smile he wore to hide his pain.

"I'm going to take Sorin his present first." He'd said, trying to hide the pain in his voice.
Tears rolled down Ruby's face. "He'll be along shortly."

"Alright then." Yang said, taking the cake from the oven and setting it on a cooling rack.

Soleil looked away, tired of everyone crying around him. His eyes fell to that same spot by the table. A chill ran down his spine and he suddenly felt sad again, he quickly looked away, out the back door, over to the cake, anything. The sadness faded when he looked away which relieved him.
His aunt and mother continued chatting while decorating the cake but he didn't pay much attention, just staring out the sliding glass back door. It was raining again. He wished the sun would come out, all this time without it made him feel tired.


A drizzle started, drawing Roman from his sad thoughts. He sat up, glancing at the grave in front of him he noticed new flowers, these had not been there moments before. He also noticed his hat was missing as rain pattered down around him at an increasing speed, he could also hear the rain bouncing off of something next to him. Glancing over and up he found Neo, she was wearing his hat and the sound he heard was the rain off of her umbrella. Other than that she had been completely silent. He was a little surprised to see her, he'd not seen her in months. She'd left town for some reason before the trip to Atlus that had ended Sorin's life.
This was likely her first time visiting his grave.
Roman was sure his assumption was true when she glanced away from the headstone to look at him, her eyes rimmed with tears, one eye white and the other brown. She took a deep breath and wiped the tears from her eyes.

"Isn't there a living Kit with a birthday you should be spending time with?" She asked.

Roman nodded and stood, retrieving his hat from her head then starting away without a word. He paused however, at his sister's grave and whispered something that Neo couldn't quite make all of out, however she did catch "look out for him" so she guessed at what he was requesting of his late older sister.
With that he left and Neo was alone. She didn't seem to mind, shifting her umbrella as the wind shifted the rain into her face.

"I'm sorry I couldn't come sooner…. I was taking care of matters in all four kingdoms… Weiss told me what happened." She paused a moment to let out a sigh. "I'm sorry kiddo…. I could protect you from the crime world but I'm powerless against ghosts."
Neo brought her sleeve up to her eyes again and realized she couldn't stop crying. She'd never cried here before, not over her parents or anyone else. She'd thought herself cold for it but now realized that she simply had to actually care.


The cake was looking close to finished and Soleil was trying to cheer up when he heard footsteps behind him and turned to see who had entered the kitchen. His little red eyes met with the green one of his ginger haired uncle who'd obviously been caught in the rain. A faint smile tugged at Soleil's lips looking at the soaked man. Roman returned that smile and walked over to hug the boy. Soleil hugged Roman tightly, at least as tight as he could for as tired as he was. The slight listlessness had the former criminal looking at his nephew with concern in his eyes.

"You okay?"

Soleil sighed, tired of that question already then pointed at the sliding glass doors. Roman gave the clouds a disapproving look and huffed before setting the boy down.

"Can't have that now, can we?" He marched over to the broom cupboard, retrieved a broom and headed out onto the back porch, once there he turned the broom bristles up and started swinging at the sky, angrily yelling. "Get lost! You've had you're effect for days now, so shoo! Off, out of here, scoot, skidaddle, scram! We want a sunny damn day you good for nothing, depressing, gloomy, ugly clouds!"

At this point Yang and Ruby had paused both conversation and cake decorating to stare at the man as if he'd lost his mind. Soleil however started silently laughing, his shoulders shook and he was glad he wasn't standing as he'd have probably fallen over. Seeing the boy cheer both sisters caught on and relaxed, Ruby silently appreciating Roman's strength, the ability to find humor for others when your heart hurts takes a special kind of willpower.

With an annoyed, over exaggerated huff, Roman lowered his hands to rest on his hips, broom still in one hand as he looked up at the drizzly clouds. He came back in, setting the broom back in its place before turning to Soliel. "Well, I gave it my best shot but they're unreasonable. Don't worry though, they don't leave soon I'll tell Neo and she'll have her goons run them out of town."

Soliel smiled and nodded, amused for the moment at least; still tired but not thinking too much on it. For now he just wanted to focus on the people around him, to appreciate them.


Everything was strange for the shivering little kit, the world lost nearly all of it's color aside from the hue of blue. He wasn't in pain but he was cold, so cold and he hated being cold. He was lonely too. He wasn't sure how long he'd been lost, the last thing he'd remembered was following that girl who wanted to play but then he'd been in a big hallway. It looked like the one in his home but far, far longer. He felt like had wandered through that hall for weeks, he never got hungry, never got tired but he was cold and afraid. Finally when he found an open door he'd gone through without a second thought, anything to get out of that strange hall.
He'd been surprised to see…. The same hall, but the real one this time. His home, but all the color washed away in hues of blue. He was cold and miserable. He just wanted to be warm, to not be alone. With a sniffle he shuffled towards his parent's bedroom door and pushed it open, it creaked slightly and he saw his kitty mother glance up at the door and then her brow furrowed in confusion.

"Mammy…" He sniffled, but she didn't seem to see him. She was sitting in her reading chair holding a book so he just clambered up to cuddle. He was cold and sad and scared. She didn't seem to know he was there but started shivering too. There was warmth from her but he couldn't seem to warm up and she didn't say anything.

His mother seemed panicked and suddenly she was scrambling to get out of the chair, leaving him behind. The book she'd been reading fell to the floor and she bolted for the door but slowed down in the hall, crying. He was hurt and confused so he wanted to find his other mother, suddenly he was in the kitchen and he dropped next to the table, just crying and sobbing. Soleil was in there with her and neither of them noticed him. He cried out for them and neither heard or maybe they were ignoring him. He didn't understand. He felt even more alone, hurt and abandoned, cold and afraid. He cried, sobbed and begged for them to forgive him, he didn't even know what he'd done wrong but it hurt and he hated it.


Seeing as to how everyone had been reacting weirdly to the table Yang opted to carry the cake into the living room after lunch, setting it on the coffee table instead. Soleil sat beside Roman while his moms lit the candles, they always did this little thing together, it was sweet, he thought. With the candles lit everyone sang happy birthday, he fought really hard not to feel sad, instead focusing on his moms' and his uncle's superb voices.
It took him a long moment of consideration when they told him to blow out the candles. He searched his mind for a wish, he tried hard to think of something but… all in the world he wanted was his brother and tears welled in his eyes. He knew that wasn't possible, he knew Sorin was gone forever. His heart ached as he bit his lip, thinking hard, grasping for anything else at all but there was nothing that came to his mind, not even the sunlight he so desperately needed. His mind was clouded just like the sky and all he could think of was his lost brother, cold and motionless. In that moment, he could swear he heard his brother crying, but it was so faint… It could have easily been the wind, it could have been anything but it wasn't his brother, that was impossible. He felt those tears escaping his eyes, rolling down his cheeks as he watched the wax do much the same rolling down the side of the candles. Everyone had gone quiet, he was sure it was all sad expressions watching him. This heartache was shared by them all.

Before he could give up, before he could crumple and start sobbing again, he felt a hand on his back. Soleil looked up at him, meeting the gaze of his uncle, seeing the shared pain there… The same pain his sisters had, the same pain one of his mothers shared. The pain of losing a sibling, he understood it too…
Finally he looked back to the candles, wiping his eyes he drew in a breath to make his wish.

'Let Sorin find peace.'

He blew and the candles all went out. He didn't open his eyes for a long time, sniffling and trying not to cry too hard. No one asked what his wish had been, he just got wrapped in many hugs.


Sorin had wandered into the living room once he'd realized everyone was in there. He saw the cake, even it's flames were blue, and he started crying all the harder, shivering hard. He felt betrayed… they were celebrating his and Soleil's birthday without him… he was left out. He couldn't wrap his little child mind around why they would do such a thing, why they would ignore him, why they cried so much, ran from him, stayed away from him. He was miserable and on the verge of getting bitter. It hurt and he didn't understand, he felt so alone.

"Hey there, no need to cry, you aren't alone." Said a warm sounding but unfamiliar female voice.
Startled Sorin looked to see who it was, surprised someone had finally noticed him. Unlike his family, unlike the house around him, this girl had color to her. She looked like a teenager, she had ginger hair like his uncle but much much longer. She had blue eyes too, but there was a very clear resemblance between her and his uncle. That familiarity almost put him at ease but he didn't know who she was.

"It's okay, I'm not gonna hurt you. As a matter of fact, your uncle, my little brother, asked me to look out for you." She said with a bright smile. "My name is Carmine, Carmine Torchwick, what's yours?"

"Sorin…" He sniffled. "Why is everyone ignoring me."

"Oh Sorin, they aren't ignoring you, they can't see you, they can't see me either."

"I don't understand." He said choking out another sob.

"We're dead." She said as gently as she could.

"I… I don't believe you!" He cried and ran away from her.

With a sigh Carmine stood, shaking her head before looking over at the group of living people. They'd gotten the remaining boy to calm down and were slicing cake now. She took a step that way, crouching to look at her brother who was sat in the floor with everyone else. She smiled softly.

"I'm so proud of you Roman."


Roman was about to hand Lila her slice of cake after he'd, at Soleil's silent request, helped the boy slice it up, when he jumped slightly and glanced sharply to his side, looking around over Soleil's head.

"Are you okay uncle Roro?" She asked, still reaching.

"Yeah… just thought I heard something." He said, handing it to her as he looked back.

He let the oddity of it slide, not sure what it was or if he'd really even heard anything, there had just… felt like someone had said something but there was nothing. He had more important things to think about though, passing the next piece of cake as the adults in the room got their own. He looked down at Soleil beside him, eating silently, he looked exhausted and that worried him tremendously. Soleil couldn't sleep, he needed the sun but there wasn't actually much Roman could do to end the storm. He was at a loss there and a cold fear crept into the pit of his stomach. If he didn't figure out something then they'd lose him too, he realized.

That couldn't happen, he wouldn't let that happen. He wasn't going to watch another of his precious nephews die. He wasn't going to let any of the kits die, he wouldn't stand for it. He wouldn't live through another funeral.
For the moment he kept an eye on Soleil as he plotted what to do, tried to think of anything aside from waiting out the storm cause at this point it didn't seem like that was going to be an option.


"Here you are." Carmine said, kneeling beside the crying kit, hiding under the kitchen table once more.

"No! Leave me alone!" He protested.

"But then you'll be all alone, so will I. You don't want that do you? I don't want you to have to be lonely."

"I don't know you! You're a stranger!"

"Well… let's fix that then." She said, moving to sit beside him and whether he listened or not, she started telling him about herself, about her life, her childhood and little Roman. That caught his attention and he finally looked up at her, listening as she talked about his uncle when he was little.


Soleil was struggling to stay awake, he was just so tired, all he wanted was to curl up and pass out. He kept fighting that though, fighting to keep his eyes open, to keep moving. He tore open presents without really seeing or appreciating them. There was a charm bracelet and he put that on but otherwise he didn't think much of any of it, too busy fighting to keep his eyes open.

Yang, Blake and Ruby were quite concerned, the boy's parents seeming to feel a bit helpless, the sisters were also worried, watching their brother struggle to keep his eyes open. Finally, Roman had enough, he had a plan. He scooped Soleil up without a word and headed for the door.

"Where are you going?" Blake demanded.

"To get this child some sun." Roman said firmly and out they went.

Soleil was struggling to focus to stay awake as he was placed in the car and flinched when his uncle pinched him, looking to Roman slightly startled.

"Sorry, but you have to stay awake." He said insistently, to which Soleil nodded, he understood. Roman kept talking to and shaking or poking at the boy as he drove, not wanting Soleil to fall asleep, not willing to let him die too. So out of it was the little dragon faunus that he didn't notice Roman making a call, asking someone to meet them somewhere, it went right over the child's head.

Finally they got to the place Roman had been driving and Soleil was shaken again from near dozing off as Roman pulled him from the car, all but running across an air hanger. Soleil caught sight of a couple of vehicles before they climbed into one and it started moving.

"Just hold on, it's gonna be okay, I promise it will be okay, you just have to stay with me." Roman said, doing what he could to help Soleil stay awake. It wasn't easy but he managed, feeling the movement of whatever they were riding in now, then it lifted off the ground. A bullhead maybe, he wasn't sure, only knowing that he had to focus on Roman, on staying standing, on keeping his eyes open.

"We're clear!" Came Neo's voice from the cockpit after a while and Roman picked Soleil up again, holding him tight as he turned to the door and opened it, quick to get a good grasp on a handhold.

Sunlight flooded in and Soleil spread his wings to catch as much of it as possible, they glittered faintly, absorbing the warmth and light. He breathed a sigh of relief and fell to what counted as 'sleep' for him, just holding his uncle and enjoying the sun was enough to feel mostly himself again.
Roman kept a tight hold on the child, looking out at the storm they'd left behind. He fully intended to use up a full tank of fuel if that's what it took to get soleil the energy he needed to survive. He rested his head against his nephew's and just enjoyed the calm moment for what it was. Thinking to himself 'He's gonna be fine.'


Finally Sorin didn't seem afraid of her anymore, they were walking around his former home and he pointed things out to talk to her about, he was still caught in his death state, which worried her, but she felt she was at least making ground with helping him move on to the other side. She knew it would do him no good to stay here, she couldn't stay forever as it was, so calmly, patiently, she guided him towards the acceptance that his time here was over.


It was after dark by the time the sound of a bullhead pierced through the den of rain in the residential area that held Blake and Yang's home. Everyone hurried outside as the large aircraft lowered towards the street and the door opened, Roman standing inside with soleil standing beside him. Ruby was almost startled by the old visual that came to mind, of how Roman had parted ways on their first meeting… they'd become enemies that day.

"Soleil!" Yang cried, running over and Roman lowered the boy out of the aircraft, smiling.

"There ya go, one kid all better now." Roman grinned as Yang wrapped her son in a tight hug. Blake at her side quickly.

"Thank you, Roman." Blake said graciously, tears of relief in her eyes.

"Anything for these kids, you know that." he smiled and as the bullhead started to lift back up he caught sight of two extra people on the front porch. He had to blink a couple of times, shocked at what he was seeing. There on the steps sat… his sister, Carmine and… Sorin. Carmine looked the same as the day she'd died, and Sorin looked the same as the moment he'd died. Carmine was wrapping her signature white scarf around the kit's neck and he seemed to cheer, his color returning. She picked the boy up, looked Roman's way and winked. Then, both were gone.
Roman had to fall back to one of the seats as the bullhead climbed further into the air.

"You okay Roro?" Neo called but he couldn't find the words to answer, shocked but also reassured as he realized what the implications were.
He'd asked his sister to look after little Sorin in the afterlife and… she was.
That brought him a great deal of comfort.


AN: Man, anyone else remeber when soul sand was purple?

I started this chapter a long time ago and only finished it recently.

Hopefully the transition isn't terribly obvious.